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Augusta v. Employees of Vandalia Correctional Center

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 6, 2017

QUENNEL AUGUSTA, K81797 Plaintiff,
v.
EMPLOYEES OF VANDALIA CORRECTIONAL CENTER, STEPHANIE WAGGONER, EMPLOYEES OF IDOC, BRUCE RAUNER, JOHN BALDWIN, RANDY PFISTER, and EMPLOYEES OF STATEVILLE CORRECTIONAL CENTER, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         The Original Complaint in this case (Doc. 1) was filed by two Vandalia Correctional Center (“Vandalia”) inmates: Quennel Augusta and Shawn J. Flores. Plaintiffs filed the action pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that they have been subjected to unconstitutional conditions of confinement at Vandalia and at Stateville Correctional Center (“Stateville”). On September 1, 2017, the Court entered an Order pursuant to Boribourne v. Berge, 391 F.3d 852 (7th Cir. 2004). (Doc. 5). On October 4, 2017, consistent with the Boribourne Order and Plaintiffs' responses (or failure to respond), Plaintiff Flores's claims were severed into a new action (17-cv-1071-NJR) and Plaintiff Augusta was granted leave to file an amended complaint. (Doc. 152).

         On October 24, 2017, Plaintiff Augusta filed an Amended Complaint (Doc. 15) and a Motion to Request Advice (Doc. 16). On November 1, 2017, he filed a “Motion for Instant Action” (Doc. 17), which the Court construes as a Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order.

         This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Amended Complaint (Doc. 15) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and to address Plaintiff's Motion to Request Advice (Doc. 16) and Motion for Instant Action (Doc. 17).

         Applicable Standards

         Section 1915A provides as follows:

(a) Screening - The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for Dismissal - On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint-
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         An action or claim is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Frivolousness is an objective standard that refers to a claim that any reasonable person would find meritless. Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross “the line between possibility and plausibility.” Id. at 557. At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se Complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         The Complaint must also comply with Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure which requires that a pleading set forth a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). While Rule 8 does not require detailed factual allegations, it demands more than bare legal conclusions and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action. Id; see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“the pleading standard Rule 8...demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation” and “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice”); Alexander v. United States, 721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th Cir. 2013) (conclusory statements and labels are insufficient). A complaint must, at a minimum, give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests; and the factual allegations must raise a right to relief above the speculative level. See Bissessur v. Ind. Univ. Bd. of Trs., 581 F.3d 599, 602-03 (7th Cir. 2009).

         After fully considering the relevant allegations in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, the Court concludes that this action is subject to summary dismissal.

         The Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff asserts a litany of complaints about the conditions at Vandalia including: broken toilets and faucets (Doc. 15, p. 7); an outbreak of scabies somewhere in the prison (Doc. 15, p. 7); inadequate heat and/or air conditioning (Doc. 15, pp. 7-9); dirty bug infested mattresses (Doc. 15, pp. 5, 7); failure to give certain inmates working outside cold drinking water (“work camp” inmates receive ice water, but “uphill” inmates do not receive ice water) (Doc. 15, p. 9); the microwave and phones are located in the bathrooms, there is no antibacterial soap (Doc. 15, pp. 5, 11); cleaning supplies are inadequate (Doc. 15, pp. 5-7, 11); and inmates are not receiving enough juice (Doc. 15, p. 14). Plaintiff generally alleges that Vandalia is not a safe prison. For instance, he is concerned about whether the correctional officers, many of whom are female and outnumbered, are capable of protecting inmates in the event of a fight. (Doc. 15, pp. 13-14). He has also witnessed many fights, involving both correctional officers and inmates. Id. Plaintiff is concerned that inmates, including mentally ill inmates, are allowed to use razors to shave because these razors could be used as weapons. (Doc. 15, p. ...


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